The past two weeks working with both community partners that I have been assigned to- SAUT and YOU have definitely been the most tumultuous weeks yet in terms of changes (thankfully not for challenges!). There has been a great shift in the deliverables, mindsets, and tasks that I have been in charge of that has definitely hit some sort of a reset button- but in a good way !
I have been really thankful for my team of interns- Gurleen and Alex. They have really been the motivating factors for me in this mostly individual and liberal internship where I have been at the reins in dictating what I would be working on for the week. Thanks to the new deliverables in which a lot of small teamwork and communication was needed, it was really nice to work on everything together with honest feedback, positive encouragements, and most of all, progress!!
On the other hand, I had the chance to go see Dr. Jane Goodall last week which really made me do a lot of self-reflexivity. Coincidentally, she was also in Tanzania when she first began her work which made me think back to my internship with SAUT (also being in Tanzania). She focused on the human-environment nature of all processes which I found striking. The environment, the earth, and ultimately health is what really connects us all as part of the fundamental human experience. Through storytelling and reaching the hearts of those at whomst she was able to convince in whichever cause that she was focusing on, she was able to develop her organization and accomplish the many things that she has done up till her career now. Listening to such an incredible human being talk about her life and way of thinking, allowed me to take some of that and place it into my life. The whole evening was a gentle reminder for me to refocus on the aims of the internship which is to ultimately aid in this human-environment-health connection in both SAUT and YOU and put my strengths and talents to paint a story for the next interns, participants, and stakeholders of both organizations.
I’m really looking forward to next week to see what the interns and I will have accomplished with our newly assigned tasks and deliverables as well as hanging out with friends and family for Canada day. I’m finally back in Calgary from my French immersion at Laval University in Quebec which was amazing and good for my brain to do some trilingual mix-matching (haha). I will surely treasure the cultural experiences that I have gained from being in a different province which really seemed like a different country, the Quebecois mindset, the historic symbolism of Canada, and the amazing people that I have met along the way. I have loved being able to connect the experiences in Quebec to my internship such as talking/texting in French with Elias, who is a student I’m working with!
A small life update is that I’m going to be in Korea for the majority of July and a part of August to visit my grandparents and help my grandma in taking care of my grandpa. She’s already begun making plans to hang out with her friends who she hadn’t been able to see since the pandemic and my grandpa’s surgeries this year, so I’m really excited for her and to see my grandpa! I’ll be trying to balance my summer courses, the internship, as well as researching safe & fun things to do with my grandparents indoors or near the hospital. Like everything, I’m sure that the next month and a half will bring its own set of challenges and obstacles, but I’m wholly optimistic and excited for all that’s to come 😊
I can’t believe that it’s already July and that we’re 1/3 past the internship. Time really does fly.
This week, I really felt the dire importance of time management and doing it well. Since I am trying to do this internship while balancing school, it has been very difficult to balance everything especially when I felt really lost and confused on what to do for the internship. Especially for the past 2 weeks, I felt like I have wasted time researching things that wouldn’t even be possible because of simply just not fully understanding what was happening during the internship.
In order to combat this, the following things had to be done and accomplished this week before the internship progressed even more!
- Meetings, meetings, and more meetings!
It has been a busy busy busy week in terms of Zoom meetings and WhatsApp calls! I think that I have been meeting my fellow interns in the SAUT and YOU team almost every day in the past 2 weeks! This healthy communication and little community that we have made for ourselves has been super helpful and supportive in terms of my weird availabilities and interesting meetings with SAUT team. Addressing challenges with Maria and Bob, Gurleen and Alex, Rita and Ana, and simultaneously and in different combinations has given me so many different ideas, advice, and pieces of knowledge that I have been so grateful for. Something that I have taken from all the meetings this week is to really change my perspective on what the deliverables of the project actually is. Would it be to actually create a new product development plan, or pointing out strategies in the Fiti program that would eliminate obstacles so that new product development would be possible in the future. I have learned to be okay with being stood up at meetings which has sadly become kind of normal in terms of the SAUT side, but it has also been super enjoyable and fun whenever I have gotten to meet with the students and exchange ideas, research, and be able to converse with them since they are also very interested about the project too! I hope to be able to bounce back from these meetings with increased enthusiasm and passion to engage the students and convince myself that I can do this !!
- Creating a strict schedule
As a result of me being a master at endlessly sitting in front of my computer for hours without actually getting anything done, it has been imperative for me to set a strict schedule. In the internship agreement, it says that around 15-25 hours of work is expected per week and so I have blocked off times specifically to work on the internship. I have been doing pretty well on sticking by the times, other than external forces that I wasn’t able to control such as meeting participants not showing up, prolonged meetings, and other emergencies. I hope to be able to do better in managing my time throughout the summer and find hours, places, and settings at which I will be able to be most productive as I move back home next week. I have also grown a sentiment to appreciate my time and to not waste it. For instance, I have been trying to spend any spare hour either working on myself ie. Jogging, cooking, reading and really utilizing my work time to the full. If I wasn’t able to get something done during the work session, of course, I would spend more time but to first have an understanding of the value of my own time is something that I haven’t felt before about myself.
- Not being harsh on myself
I’m not going to lie, this past week has been extremely difficult for me in terms of personal life. My grandpa has gotten readmitted into the hospital since getting discharged in early May, so a possibility of a visit to Korea has suddenly come up to the horizon. As a result of growing up with my grandparents when I was little, I have always found that I have been comfortable with my grandparents, sometimes calling them even more than my own parents. I also am currently in Québec City learning French with the Explore program, so when this ends on the 18th, I will be flying back to Calgary to see my family and to figure out who will visit my grandparents and more… It’s also my first time going back since last summer so I’m so excited to be with my family and hometown friends again, but I’m sure it’ll come with its own challenges (living with my teenage brother again haha..)
It will definitely be a challenging few months for me but I am optimistic that everything will end up being okay. I’m also gaining an increased gratitude for this little blog space that I call mine, I have forgotten how important and useful journaling could be for my mental health and I hope to continue it, even when this internship is over. I’m going to videocall my grandparents now, until the next blog post!
I’m so excited to digest what has gone down during the first week of the internship through this blog post. It’s been quite a challenge trying to balance everything that has been going on in my life along with this internship, other schoolwork, as well as just life in general but it’s been nothing but fun so far!
Starting off even before the internship period started, there was a meeting scheduled with the St. Augustine University of Tanzania partners and other students. Unfortunately, it was created the day before the meeting so I was on a train back home at the time. It’s really funny how when things get busy in life, everything just happens at once (haha).
At first, I thought that it was going to be a zoom meeting, but the internet connection both on the train and in Tanzania was weak. It was very interesting to download and create a WhatsApp account in the span of 20 minutes but it was done while trying to get off the train which arrived at 9:30 and just conveniently happened to be in the middle of the meeting that started at 9AM…
From this first initial meeting, I really learned to be prepared with multiple ways of contact, whether it’d be with an additional battery to charge my phone, a laptop in case WhatsApp was going to be used, steady internet or data access, as well as just staying calm and competent throughout all the challenges. It was also very humbling for me to not appreciate the vast area of internet connection and service area throughout the train ride (although it didn’t work well underground). Unsteady internet access being common in Tanzania also made me feel even more grateful for the internet and the services that I get to utilize at the tips of my fingertips.
This meeting was also where I was introduced to the students that I was going to be working with as well as a specific duty -> new product development!
Meeting with YOU
Next, it was time to meet the second organization that I was going to be working with, Youth Opportunities Unlimited. At this meeting, I was able to really get a sense of what the organization did in the community of London and the progress of their Fiti yogurt program. It was really cool to be able to converse with an actual individual who was so involved in the local youth and social supports that aid them. I really liked connecting with Rita as well, who reached out to me after as she was also working on new recipe development and nutritional analysis, which has some parts that overlap with my research in new product development.
Meeting with students
After the initial meetings, it was time to connect with the students at St. Augustine University via WhatsApp. It is kind of difficult to get a hold of both students as there is a sparse internet connection and live in very different time zones. At the end of this week, we managed to get everyone connected to a Google Drive where we will be putting all our information and research together next week. We hope to have a short-term work plan and schedule finalized so that tasks could be given to each person.
We have also created a biweekly meeting schedule for the 3 of us – Gurleen, Alex, and myself- to go over the SAUT project and our progress. During this time, we hope to exchange information with one another, talk about difficulties and successes, as well as motivate each other!
During the internship, there are also cool Swahili lessons for interns to attend. With the help of an amazing teacher, it was really fun and challenging to learn so many words and phrases in an hour session, but I really hope with review and practice that the language sticks with me – and that I could use it during the next student meeting!
I look forward to the coming weeks and sharing my experiences throughout the rest of the months. Asante! 😊